UC researcher to become 'part-time Indy Jones'

26 September 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) geography researcher is becoming a part-time Indiana Jones as he helps a team of archaeologists discover a lost city in central Sumatra.

UC researcher to become 'part-time Indy Jones'

Dr Christopher Gomez

A University of Canterbury (UC) geography researcher is becoming a part-time Indiana Jones as he helps a team of archaeologists discover a lost city in central Sumatra.

Dr Christopher Gomez is working with a team of Indonesian archaeologists on the discovery of a lost city where they found Chinese and Persian quarters surrounding forgotten temples in the middle of a deserted swampy marsh and forest.

Dr Gomez has just received an award from the New Zealand Geographical Society for his scientific contribution and is on the verge of unearthing the South-east Asia equivalent of the lost city of Atlantis.

Seven years ago Dr Gomez was working with a team of Jakarta archaeologists when they found evidence that foreign vessels were converging on Sumatra for its gold.

He has been continuing his work in collaboration with the archaeologists, which has led to this exciting news.

"This year, after almost 10 years of prospecting and in collaboration with a colleague from the Netherlands, Veronique Degroot, and the Indonesian team, we have found evidences of the location of the lost north-coast harbour of the Mataram Kingdom,’’ Dr Gomez says.

"The Mataram Kingdom in Indonesia was an all-mighty empire during the 7th to the 12th century, which was expanding to the border of the present Vietnam with a strong network of merchants trading with Persians, Indians and Chinese when Europeans were still fighting each other through the middle ages.

"This kingdom had its capital on the island of Java and is related in Persian and Chinese text. It used to have a large harbour to the north of the island. Because of climate change, volcanic eruptions and river sedimentation, the north coast harbour and its city have been long lost, until this year, when evidences of its location were discovered.

"It is very exciting time. We are on the verge of unearthing one of the best kept secrets in East Asia. It is a bit like unearthing Angkor Vat, or going down the tomb of the pharaohs and the most exciting part this time is the prospect of bringing a UC student with me on this adventure.

"Two years ago, I brought some UC students and colleagues to the Merapi volcano in Central Java, which in 2010 produced the largest eruption of the last 100 years. The students loved being there. It was like having young students on their first field trip. As UC enrolments for 2014 start next week, this is an exciting place to research and study.

"I am honoured that Indonesian archaeologists turned to me, as a UC scientist, which puts our University on the world stage. Now I am trying to find sponsors for my students to give them the chance to experience first-hand how it is to create the sciences we teach in the classroom and share with them the exhilarating things that still need to be discovered,’’ Dr Gomez says.

For more information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz

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